Tesla has 500,000 reservations for the Mannequin three, Chevy has a $35,000, 200+ mile-range electrical automobile, quite a few nations in Europe have set timelines to eradicate the sale of recent combustion vehicles, and electrical automobiles might find yourself being cheaper to construct than dead-dinosaur-sauce-burning vehicles. It certain looks like electrical vehicles are right here to remain, however the fact is that they’re nonetheless a ache within the ass to make use of with regards to charging. I believe I could have a workable stopgap resolution.
The newest era of electrical vehicles have outlined a 200-mile vary as a brand new baseline, and it’s one which genuinely appears viable. With the ability to drive 200 to 300 or so miles places electrical vehicles roughly within the ballpark of many gasoline vehicles individuals have been used to, as there’s been many vehicles with gasoline tanks round 12 gallons getting round 20-25 miles per gallon.
The vary for a lot of electrical vehicles is lastly the place it must be, however, like all good issues, that vary does ultimately run out, and that’s the place the issues start. The charging infrastructure, whereas at the very least indirectly extant, can on no account compete with the comfort of the sturdy gasoline-refueling infrastructure drivers are used to, and that’s going to be an issue for widespread adoption.
For many house owners, charging is completed each night time, at residence, and the vehicles, just like the plot of a shitty sitcom, at all times find yourself again the place they began as soon as the day’s adventures are over.
This works tremendous for many individuals, however for those who’re one of many tens of millions of Individuals who dwell in flats with out EV charging services, or for those who simply need to take an extended highway journey, the constraints of the present charging infrastructure turn out to be very, very clear.
As of June of this yr, there have been round 16,000 EV charging stations with about 44,000 connectors in the USA. That looks like an honest quantity, however most of these appear to be sluggish Stage 2 charging stations, with the quick DC charging stations, just like the Tesla Superchargers, solely numbering 2,172 stations with 5,992 shops. It’s these quick DC stations which can be best suited to long-distance journey, since they don’t take 6 or eight hours to get your automobile again to a usuable cost.
Now, for comparability, there’s about 168,000 gasoline stations in the USA, with every station having… effectively, a bunch of pumps. These numbers differ wildly, from tiny stations with 2 or four to very large truck stops with 32 or extra pumps. We’ll guess conservatively that a median station has 12 pumps, giving a complete of two,zero16,000 out there gasoline pumps within the U.S.
That’s a hell of much more. Gasoline stations are, as everyone knows, in all places.
So, right here’s the place we’re: electrical vehicles are lastly changing into inexpensive and sensible sufficient to make sense to make use of, however if you wish to do any vital touring in a single, it’s nonetheless a colossal ass-pain. However I believe I’ve an honest stop-gap resolution.
The important thing right here is that to make a viable electrical automobile charging infrastructure, we’ll have to piggyback on an present infrastructure, and essentially the most logical one to make use of is the gasoline station community. Attempting to wire all gasoline stations and even one given chain of gasoline stations with the wanted for quick DC chargers can be costly and sluggish. That kind of community might want to come in the future, however within the brief time period we want one thing quick and adequate.
That’s the place Trunk Batteries are available.
Right here’s what must occur: one (or extra) of the main gasoline station franchises must associate with a hypothetical firm that produces modular, rechargeable, swappable battery packs that may be positioned into an electrical automobile’s trunk, connect with the automobile’s charging system, and provides the automobile an honest sufficient quantity of vary to be helpful.
It’d work like this: you’re taking your Mannequin three or Bolt or Mannequin S or no matter on a highway journey, and also you see you’re operating out of battery energy. As an alternative of looking round to desperately discover a charging station in vary, you are taking the following exit, cease at a standard gasoline station, and again (or drive up, in case you have a entrance trunk) as much as the Trunk Battery kiosk.
As soon as there, you open your trunk and a forklift-like system locations the ~250 lb battery pack in your trunk. The battery pack has a spot to carry your hood or hatch practically closed whereas permitting a cable room to snake out and plug into your automobile’s charging port.
You plug it in, verify your vary and see you could have round 100 extra miles of vary, and off you go! Once you exhaust the Trunk Battery, you cease on the subsequent Trunk Battery-licensed gasoline station, and both drop off the battery or have it swapped for a contemporary one. Simple!
Because of the Tesla Mannequin three’s new 21-70 battery cells, a viable battery pack of a dimension and weight appropriate to most EV trunks with a spread of round 95-100 miles is feasible.
Right here, I’ll stroll you thru the mathematics: every 21-70 cell (named as a result of it’s 21mm in diameter and 70mm in size) has a capability of 21.275 Wh, and weighs 66 grams. If we get 1500 of those cells collectively, that makes a virtually 32 kWh battery pack with 218 lbs of battery weight.
Most sources say that you may count on a median of about three miles per kWh, so our 32 kWh battery pack ought to present about 96 miles of vary, which is shut sufficient to my aim of 100 miles.
If we bundle these 1500 cells into an array of 25×10 sheets of cells and stack them six excessive, we get a bundle that’s about 20″ extensive by 27″ lengthy by round 6″ excessive. If we consider wiring and cooling gadgets and housing, we will most likely find yourself with a ~250 lb field about 22″x 29″ x eight” or so, which might simply match into the entrance trunk of a Tesla Mannequin S, and will match within the hatch or trunk space of just about any main EV out there on the market.
Any gasoline station franchise that decides to deal in Trunk Batteries would want a bit of kit: a self-contained kiosk that shops and recharges battery packs, together with a raise/drop system for getting them simply into and out of automobile trunks.
These would take a little bit of design and engineering work, but it surely’s in no way all that sophisticated.
Moreover, because the Trunk Battery system is, basically, a third-party battery swapping system, the viability and advantages of a battery swapping resolution can be made very clear. If Trunk Batteries grew to become in style, carmakers might begin together with auxiliary charging ports proper inside their trunks, or, even higher, producers would ultimately agree on a standardized battery format and connector system to make the entire automobile’s batteries simply swappable by design, and with out consuming up treasured baggage area.
An answer like Trunk Batteries isn’t a long-term resolution; it’s a stopgap that gives a strategy to leverage the prevailing sturdy gasoline station infrastructure in a quick-and-dirty approach. Utilizing a Trunk Battery means giving up a great chunk of your storage quantity, and, at solely about 100 miles, an extended highway journey would require a great quantity of stops-and-swaps.
Even so, it could at the very least make an impromptu highway journey potential, and permit for EVs for use typically the identical approach combustion vehicles get used, with out the route limitations and obsessive planning that’s often required for any EV highway journey.
Proper now, although, I believe an answer like Trunk Batteries is the more than likely approach the approaching increase of electrical automobile possession shall be served whereas an actual charging infrastructure is slowly constructed. It’s an answer that ought to solely be wanted for a few decade or so, however, with out it, EVs might not even be capable of promote within the numbers wanted to have a full charging community make sense.
As at all times, buyers are welcome to contact me right here. Is ‘Sparky’ too apparent a reputation for the speaking battery pack mascot?